Photos by Kenneth Armstrong
DUBLIN – Guard Niem Ratliffe fired in five 3-point shots and tallied 24 points to lead Scotland to a 74-60 boys basketball victory over West Bladen Thursday night in the semi-finals of the Woodmen Life Christmas Tournament.
Ratliffe nailed a trio of 3-balls from the left corner to give the Scots an early 9-2 lead. Isaiah Bostick’s dunk made it 11-4, after sophmore Trashawn Ballard popped in a 12-footer for West.
Senior Scott Bowen buried a 3-pointer from the left wing to ignite a 10-3 Knight run. Senior Jonathan Robinson connected on a follow shot and 2 free throws, senior Gerardo Reyes hit a free throw, and senior Jimmy Williams sank 2 free throws to tie the game 14-14 at the quarter break.
A Robinson follow kept West even at 16-16, but another Ratliffe 3-ball capped a 7-0 Scotland run that resulted in a 23-16 lead.
Bowen answered with a corner 3-ball for West. Junior Kerron Baldwin-Washington hooked in a runner, and Williams knocked down a 3-pointer from the right wing that vaulted the Knights in front 24-23 with 5:13 left in the half.
Ratliffe banked in a runner to begin an 8-2 Scot spurt that ended when Bowen drove the baseline for a reverse lay-up that pulled West to within 31-28 at halftime.
Sophmore Tyre Boykin opened the second half with a lay-up off of an assist from Williams to slice the Scot lead to 31-30. Ratliffe drove for a pair of lay-ups to spark a 10-2 Scotland flurry that padded the lead to 41-32.
Freshman Shyron Adams turned an assist from junior Drew Harris into a lay-up, Williams drove for a lay-up, and Robinson converted a Boykin assist into a lay-up that kept West within 49-40 at the quarter break.
A pair of Bruce Wall baskets padded the Scots lead to 53-40, but Williams canned 2 free throws then pulled up for a 14-footer. Reyes pumped in an 8-footer to trim the margin to 55-46 with 4:11 left.
Justin McRae and C. J. Settles sandwiched 3-point baskets for Scotland around a 3-pointer by Reyes as the lead grew to 61-49. Two McRae free throws and a Bostick lay-up upped the count to 65-50.
Adams stole the ball and dashed for a lay-up, Williams turned a rebound into a 3-point play and Bowen bombed in another 3-ball but the Scots held on for the win.
“We competed, but they have a good team,” said Knight Coach Travis Pait. “They were better than us.”
Williams and Bowen topped the West Bladen scoring with 15 points each. Robinson finished with 8 points and 10 rebounds. Reyes totaled 7 points, and Williams grabbed 6 rebounds.
Bostick and Justin McRae followed Ratliffe with 11 points each for Scotland, and Wall had 8 points.
Scotland, now 9-2, advances to the championship game against Clinton at 8 p.m. Friday. West Bladen will play South Brunswick at 6 p.m. Friday in the third-place game.
WEST BLADEN (60) – Drew Harris, Jaheim Lesane, Kerron Baldwin-Washington 2, Jimmy Williams 15, Keshawn Lewis 2, Eddie Perez-Ortiz, Scott Bowen 15, Tyre Boykin 3, Shyron Adams 4, Trashawn Ballard 4, Gerardo Reyes 7, Jonathan Robinson 8.